Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No One Uses Training Wheels in the Tour de France

Last night and for a little while this evening I tried to teach Allie how to ride her bike.

I’m not sure this is something I want to be involved with.

Allie is afraid of her bicycle. Compared to her little toddler model this new bike is bigger, there are no training wheels and (due to a fear taming experiment her father attempted) she has fallen off of it. The moment she mounts the thing she begins to behave as if she’s being electrocuted. “Ow, ow. Oh! Ow. Daaadeee. Oh! Ow, wow, ow. Don’t let go. Don’t let go. Oh! Owwowow. You’re letting go! Why are you letting go?!”

At one point I stopped and looked her in the eyes and told her that learning to ride a bike was hard at first but that it’s not impossible. Then I reminded her that she was Alexandra Lee and Alexandra Lee can do anything when she puts her mind to it. It was a very inspirational, “After School Special” type moment for us both. Too bad I didn’t save this for something really important; like say, digging deep for Olympic gold or a piano audition for Julliard. However I was tired and getting desperate.

We started down the sidewalk again. Only this time there was a new phrase among all the whining, “Ohh! Ow. Daaadee. Don’t let go! I can do this! I can do this! Ow wowow! I can do this!”

So far she hasn’t done it.


I’m not sure I can take the plaintive wailing that is the product of this training. I find myself stifling the urge to drop the encouragement crap and revert to my more natural state telling the poor girl she’s a spaz who will never realize the joys two wheeled freedom brings. I will admit I did say some things that probably wouldn’t wind up in a textbook entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike without Using Intimidation and Humiliation. At one point I turned to Allie’s two year-old sister and said, “Would you like to give this a try? I bet you could do it.” Instead of being hurt Allie turned and glared at me. I threw both hands up and said, “I’m kidding. I’m kidding.” I was glad to see the flash of anger. It wasn’t enough to get her to stop sounding as if I was torturing her, though.

I’ve surfed a little on the topic of teaching kids to ride a bike and I now have some tips that seem useful. But I have a feeling this is going to be a very long process that could possibly kill me before my daughter is able to ride.

Riding a bike isn’t everything. Maybe she’ll just learn to run really fast. Fast enough to keep up with her friends on bicycles.

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